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Old 11-08-11, 12:26 PM   #1
jsharr
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Database creation software gurus

We receive lists of names and addresses in various forms. Excel, word, pdf, etc.

Want a system to scan the documents and enter information into a database to create a mailing list.

Is there something like this on the market?
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Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.
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Old 11-08-11, 12:29 PM   #2
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Did you check with Ruben's Lanlord?
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Old 11-08-11, 01:08 PM   #3
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If you only wanted to keep it single-user on your desktop or one-person-at-a-time on a network share, it would be pretty straightforward to roll your own in Access or (heaven help us) FileMaker. If you want it viewable over the intranet, that's a little more complicated.

Basically, we're talking about a database system that would contain both the documents and some additional information, right?
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Old 11-08-11, 01:13 PM   #4
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I want to extract the names and addresses use them to create a mailing list. If I could create a file that could be sent to a mailing house, that would be awesome. Wanting to do bulk mailings based on a list of names we receive from a customer.
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Old 11-08-11, 01:46 PM   #5
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not really a hard nut to crack, but there's no off the shelf solution that I know of. Hire a contractor or learn a scripting language like perl or python.
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Old 11-08-11, 01:50 PM   #6
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not really a hard nut to crack, but there's no off the shelf solution that I know of. Hire a contractor or learn a scripting language like perl or python.
Access....vba.
Learn to open files and scan them...then determine the import routine.
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Old 11-08-11, 01:55 PM   #7
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Yeah, some OCR software and Access would do the trick if you want to keep it Windows.
Otherwise, perl and python would probably do it, along with the appropriate scanner setup.
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Old 11-08-11, 02:20 PM   #8
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another vote for Access, esp. if you already have it. If not you might look into other options to save $
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Old 11-08-11, 02:36 PM   #9
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Unfortunately, Filemaker would still probably work over the network.

[dry heaves at the thought]
It totally would, and we're still doing it EVERY DAY here... so I dry heave at it EVERY DAY! The important stuff went to a real web app platform years ago, but there are still a few FileMaker 5/6/8 hangers on.
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Old 11-08-11, 02:48 PM   #10
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I am planning a 10th anniversary party for FileMaker Server 5 in 2012. It could also turn out to be a wake for the platform, as we might actually have dumped it by then.
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Old 11-08-11, 03:02 PM   #11
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When I got laid off a few jobs ago, one of the thoughts I used to make myself feel better was "NO MORE FILEMAKER! YESSS!" That cheered me right up.
Hell...that should be enough to keep you happy till the day you die.
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Old 11-08-11, 03:03 PM   #12
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No love for the PostgresSQL, eh? It's a refreshing change of pace to the corporate-mandated behemoth that is named Oracle.

I would use Derby before Access...Heck, I'd use flat files/perl/awk/cut/sort/uniq/grep et cetera before access.
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Old 11-08-11, 03:38 PM   #13
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Well, my preference would be MySQL (or MariaDB) over Oracle. I just don't have enough exposure to PgSQL... yet. After that, Access. Somewhere beneath the bottom, FileMaker.

SQLite might be an option, too.
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Old 11-08-11, 05:05 PM   #14
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I would say Access because if you're in an office environment, you're probably using MS Office and it's included in the suite.
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Old 11-08-11, 06:02 PM   #15
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SQL Server 2008 R2 Express.

Free & powerful as hell.
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Old 11-08-11, 10:19 PM   #16
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Dear mail spammer,

I'm sure there's something free out there. They key word to search is "OCR" (omnifont character recognition or something). The easiest database to work with would be access IMHO. But I often find excel powerful enough. Also, you might want to verify what's free for your smartphone (assuming you have one of those pesky things).
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Old 11-08-11, 10:27 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsharr View Post
We receive lists of names and addresses in various forms. Excel, word, pdf, etc.

Want a system to scan the documents and enter information into a database to create a mailing list.

Is there something like this on the market?
Excel, Word etc can probably be processed with some software to read the relevant fields, especially if whoever created the files did so in a way that lends itself to automatic reading.

PDFs would most likely need to be scanned in an optical sense and then fed through software to turn it into text. Then you'd need to proofread them because OCR can be a bit hit and miss. From there you can process the text much like you would a spreadsheet, text file etc.
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Old 11-08-11, 10:30 PM   #18
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Dear mail spammer,

I'm sure there's something free out there. They key word to search is "OCR" (omnifont character recognition or something). The easiest database to work with would be access IMHO. But I often find excel powerful enough. Also, you might want to verify what's free for your smartphone (assuming you have one of those pesky things).
Not mail spamming. These are mailings to shareholders of companies we work for. Looking to reduce our overhead.
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Old 11-09-11, 12:42 AM   #19
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Not mail spamming. These are mailings to shareholders of companies we work for. Looking to reduce our overhead.
One of my database clients receives similar information for their custom system, from customers who allow entry via web and other means (including fax), in any possible format. It's insanely wasteful and inefficient, but the consciously-uninformed VP for the client doesn't want to impose order, so their staff swallow the cost of fixing data (yet complains how inefficient the customer ordering database is, and mutter when an address change is requested). One step involves running some digital files through a FMP utility, but the person who set it up died last year and never documented. I built some intelligence into the data import steps. Eventually UPS flags remaining address errors at shipping, but there's no effort to go back and edit the database records.

However, in your case, it seems rather likely shareholder addresses are already in digital form, in standardized field format (e.g., USPS or UPS-style) and maintained by third party mailing services; your customers have already paid a mailing service to massage the data and shouldn't have to pay again. If not, it may be cheaper to submit the a raw list to a shipper like UPS and pay for their address verification service (no charge if it's done one at a time during generation of a shipping label).

Alternatively you might save a great deal of time and resources by obtaining the files via the shareholder relations department or its communications fulfillment service.
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Old 11-09-11, 04:22 AM   #20
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^ oh yeah.. can't forget the data validation steps.
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